The Message of the Book of Mormon
Chapter 2: An Overview of the Book of Mormon
The earliest migration to America, which was led by prophets of God, is recorded in the Book of Ether within the Book of Mormon. This migration, called the Jaredites, left about the time of the Tower of Babel. The Jaredites were at first led by prophets of God, but soon were divided when some of the people rejected the prophets.
By the time they were totally destroyed, there were two main groups who fought against each other. However, it was not the righteous against the wicked because both groups rejected the prophets. Eventually, some time after 600 B.C., both groups were totally wiped out by their wars, save two men only.
One of the two men was a military leader and one a prophet named Ether. What happened to these two men is unknown except that the military leader, Coriantumr, before he died, was discovered by a new migration from Jerusalem. He lived among this group for nine months. Whether he died or left is unknown. The prophet Ether may have been translated (i.e. taken up into heaven without tasting death), but no one knows for sure.
The next pair of migrations to America came from Jerusalem about 600 B.C. The main migration was led by two prophets of God. The main prophet was named Lehi and his son Nephi was the other prophet, though two other of Lehi's sons were also prophets (their names were Jacob and Joseph). Lehi and his family, and others, fled from Jerusalem shortly before Jerusalem was destroyed about 600 B.C.
At about the same time that Lehi and Nephi left Jerusalem another group left Jerusalem, but they were not led by a prophet. This is the group that discovered the last warrior of the Jaredites.
Some years after the two migrations from Jerusalem came to America, the two groups found each other and joined together. The unified people were led by the prophets who descended from Lehi and his prophet son Nephi.
Two civilizations resulted from these two groups. One group was called the "Nephites" and the other was called the "Lamanites." Generally speaking, the Nephites were the followers of the prophets. The Lamanites, so-called after another of Lehi's sons: Laman, generally did not believe the prophets and generally fought against the Nephites.
The two civilizations grew in size and frequently there were wars between the righteous Nephites and the wicked Lamanites. The Nephites were generally righteous but at times were wicked. The Lamanites were generally wicked but at times were righteous.
Several months after the resurrection of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, Christ visited these people. His influence over them was so profound that soon all of the people, both the Nephites and Lamanites, were very righteous people and were totally united.
Indeed, the crown jewel of the Book of Mormon is in Third Nephi (3 Nephi) starting with chapter 11. This is when Christ appears to the righteous people in America several months after His resurrection in Jerusalem.
These chapters in Third Nephi are unequaled in all of scriptures and they clearly demonstrate the greatness of Christ!! Time after time there are incredible evidences of the power and glory of Jesus Christ. While the New Testament also has a great deal of information about the power and greatness of Christ, Third Nephi is more vivid in its description. The Biblical version, however, is much longer.
Third Nephi does not take anything away from the Bible, in fact a good understanding of Third Nephi will enhance the understanding of the Biblical account of the greatness of Jesus Christ.
Getting back to the Book of Mormon account, about 200 years after the appearance of Christ both civilizations became proud and wicked. These civilizations also embraced "secret combinations" (i.e. powerful secret governments and secret power structures within the public governments) as had the Jaredites (who had come from the Tower of Babel) before they were destroyed.
In fact, both the Jaredites and Nephites were totally destroyed by God in wars (the Lamanites were not totally destroyed) because they so completely turned from righteousness to wickedness, like a dog to his vomit. Both civilizations embraced wicked "secret combinations" before their destruction.
This is a quote from the last Nephite prophet: Moroni:
In about 400 A.D., God knew that the wickedness of the people in America was so great that His prophets must bury in the ground their sacred records to prevent them from being destroyed. In about 400 A.D., the last of the prophets of God in America, Moroni (the son of the prophet Mormon), hid his sacred gold plates in the earth along with many other records saved on metal plates. These plates contained the sacred writings of ancient prophets written over many centuries of time.
Moroni lamented the total destruction of his people:
The surviving civilization, the Lamanites, continued to exist but deteriorated into total depravity. The Lamanites were allowed to survive because at one point they had totally switched from wickedness to great righteousness and at times were far more righteous than the Nephites! But by 400 A.D. they too had totally turned away from God. Nevertheless, God preserved them because their ancestors had, at one time, made a magnificent turnaround from great wickedness to great righteousness.
The history of the Lamanites was largely lost to the world until the European explorers, mostly the Spaniards, conquered these people in South America. Those who lived in North America were also conquered by the early settlers in North America.
In the early 1800s this same Moroni, now an angel of God, appeared to a modern day prophet and by the power of God this modern day prophet, Joseph Smith, translated the writings of the ancient prophets into the English language.
The Book of Mormon was first published in 1830 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the LDS church) in Palmyra, New York.
While the spiritual and physical deterioration of the Lamanites was complete long before the Spaniards arrived in South America, prophesies in the Book of Mormon and elsewhere have stated that these people (the Lamanites) would spiritually rise again and many of them in the Latter-Days will become righteous in the eyes of God.
This, indeed, is exactly what is happening!! Millions of Lamanites (i.e. the descendents of the indigenous people of North, Central and South America) are already members of the LDS church.
= = = = = Official Sites of the LDS Church = = = = =
Would You Like to Know More or Do You Have Questions?
Official Website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Official Church Site Devoted to the Savior Jesus Christ
Official Church Site Devoted to the Prophet Joseph Smith
Official Church Site Devoted to President Thomas S. Monson (Current Prophet)
Official LDS Church Biographies of Church Presidents